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Feeling paralyzed has been a signature personality trait of mine for many years. The complexity of the possibilities and pathways can be overwhelming for those who score high in the personality trait of openness. It means open to experience. It means to be attracted to many visions. As if all paths were shouting at me with potential for “greatness.” I always felt dizzy when hearing the phrase “you can do anything you want, but not everything you want.” The idea of choosing was painful because defining my goal and my criteria for success will open the possibility for failure, not living to my standard or expectation, or living with the uncertainty of not knowing if I chose a suboptimal option for my single life.
Oliver Bukerman shared that because “quantity of time is so limited, you’ll never reach the commanding position of being able to handle every demand that might be thrown at you or pursue every ambition that feels important; you’ll be obliged to make tough choices instead.” In other words, avoiding choice feeds the illusion that there would be infinite time for everything we want to accomplish in life, making it more likely to end up misspending time foolishly.
Nonetheless, I know from my personal experience how hard it is to make choices when feeling demotivated, defeated, tired, and drained. Figures such as David Goggins and Jocko Willink, former Navy SEALs and clear archetypes of the “warrior,” would perceive this statement as an excuse for one’s own lack of willingness. But over the years, I have tried to learn, through self-compassion, that my failure to get out of bed and conquer my dreams perhaps is not because I am “useless” or “lazy.”
A beloved teacher of mine mentioned that everyone has different ways to feed their spirit and find guidance on their sense of identity and belonging. What works for me might not work for you or even for me at another moment in time. Sometimes meaningful time with a loved one, a high protein meal, sunlight, good night sleep, journaling, a cold shower will do the job. Some other times, they won’t. This means self-regulation is an art. As much as there are guidelines on generating energy and vitality of body and mind, you, my friend, have to find what best works for you.
In my coaching practice, we try to navigate with my clients if the best way to change their state is by striving or surrendering. Striving is the track to change circumstances, seek discomfort, and fight against adversity with courage and strategy. On the other hand, surrendering implies giving up the need to fit reality into our expectations and instead reframe what experience signifies, looking to resolve the friction from the inside out by letting go of fixations or identifications with how things “should be.”
So yes, I might not feel in the right state to make the tough choices today. I might even confess that I do not know how to change my state. But at the very least, I know deep in my heart that every day is an opportunity to remind me that my intention is not to suffer and that it is ok to want a better life. Such a self-compassionate decision gives me faith that it is only a matter of keeping my search alive. Such trust creates conviction that the quest will make me stumble across what my spirit needs to be ready to make the tough choices that will ultimately enable me to grasp a sense of progress, alignment, and agency.
With all love,
Santiago Barragan Noguera
Coach & Educator — Artistic Polymath
Copyright © 2021 Santiago Barragan Noguera. All rights reserved.